Extended Sentences

"DESIGNED FOR DEFENDANTS WHO ARE ASSESSED AS DANGEROUS BUT FOR WHOM A SENTENCE OF LIFE IMPRISONMENT IS NOT JUSTIFIED"

What is an extended sentence?

An extended sentence can be imposed only in the Crown Court and is one type of sentence designed for defendants who are assessed as dangerous but for whom a sentence of life imprisonment is not justified.  With an extended sentence there is a custodial element and a licence element.  It is this licence element which is extended in this type of sentence, the purpose of this being for the protection of the public.  The power to impose extended sentences on adult defendants is contained in s.226A of the Criminal Justice Act 2003.

This section relates to over 18s only.  You can read more on the Sentencing Council website about Youth Sentencing.

what are the Requirements for an Extended Sentence?

Extended sentences can be imposed only if the following conditions are satisfied:

  • The defendant is 18 years of age or more and has committed a specified violent or sexual offence (a specified violent offence and a specified sexual offence are those listed respectively in Parts 1 and 2 of Schedule 15 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 (see below); and
  • The judge assesses the defendant to be dangerous (i.e. a significant risk to members of the public of serious harm by committing further specified offences) (see below); and
  • The judge considers that a sentence of imprisonment for life is not justified; and
  • The defendant EITHER has a previous conviction for an offence listed in Schedule 15B to the Criminal Justice Act 2003 (see below)
    OR
  • The judge considers that, in the event of imposing an extended sentence, the custodial element of the sentence should be at least 4 years.  

What are specified offences?

Specified Violent and Sexual Offences are those listed in Schedule 15 Parts 1 and 2 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003. These ‘specified’ offences include false imprisonment, kidnapping, threats to kill, ABH/GBH/Wounding (contrary to sections 47, 18 or 20 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861), child cruelty, firearm possession with intent to resist arrest, endanger life or cause fear of violence, robbery, aggravated burglary, criminal damage, arson, affray, violent disorder, causing death by dangerous driving, or death by careless driving when under the influence of drink or drugs, racially/religiously aggravated assault/public order offences, harassment by putting people in fear of violence, terrorism offences including preparation and training for terrorism; rape, sexual/indecent assault, numerous child sex offences and having indecent images of children, numerous sex offences relating to victims with a mental disorder, controlling/causing/inciting prostitution, people trafficking for sexual exploitation, exposure, voyeurism.

What are offences listed in Schedule 15B to the Criminal Justice Act 2003?

Offences listed in Schedule 15B of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 include manslaughter, soliciting murder, wounding with intent and causing grievous bodily harm with intent (s.18 Offences Against the Person Act 1861), possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life, using a firearm to resist arrest, carrying a firearm with criminal intent, robbery (where the defendant was in possession of a firearm or imitation firearm), indecent child images offences, certain terrorism offences, rape, assault by penetration and numerous sexual offences relating to child victims or victims with a mental disorder,  causing or allowing the death of a child or vulnerable adult). Schedule 15B listed offences include attempts to commit these offences, as well as conspiracy to commit such an offence or murder, or incitement to commit such an offence or murder, encouraging or assisting offences (under Part 2 of the Serious Crime Act 2007) where the offence intended or believed to be committed is a listed offence or murder, and aiding abetting, counselling or procuring the commission of a listed offence.

How is Dangerousness Assessed?

In reaching a decision about whether a defendant is dangerous (i.e. a significant risk to members of the public of serious harm by committing further specified offences) the judge will consider those matters set out in s.229 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 – this means the judge must consider all the information available to him/her about the nature and circumstances of the offence; the judge may also consider the nature and circumstances of any other offences the defendant has committed (whether in the UK or anywhere else), may take into account any information about any pattern of offending disclosed by the current and past offences and may consider any other information available to the court about the defendant.

How much time must be served during an extended sentence?

"UNLIKE USUAL DETERMINATE (FIXED TERM) SENTENCES WHERE RELEASE WILL TAKE PLACE BY THE HALFWAY STAGE, A DEFENDANT SENTENCED TO AN EXTENDED SENTENCE WILL SERVE AT LEAST TWO-THIRDS OF THE CUSTODIAL ELEMENT OF THE SENTENCE"

Unlike usual determinate (fixed term) sentences where release will take place by the halfway stage, a defendant sentenced to an extended sentence will serve at least two-thirds of the custodial element of the sentence. Where this custodial element is ten years or more, or the offence for which the sentence was imposed is one listed in Schedule 15B of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 (see above), there is no right to automatic release at the two-thirds stage. An application for parole can be made at that stage; if parole is refused release must take place at the conclusion of the custodial element, unless a further successful parole application has been made resulting in earlier release. Where the custodial term imposed is less than ten years and the offence is not one listed in Schedule 15B, release must take place by the time two-thirds of this custodial element of the sentence has been served. 

How long can the licence period be for?

After release the defendant will be on licence. The extension of the licence period must be for a minimum of 1 year and a maximum of 8 years for a specified sexual offence and a maximum of 5 years for a specified violent offence, although the custodial element and licence element when added together cannot exceed the maximum sentence for the offence.  

Extended Sentence Example

  • 30 year old defendant convicted of grievous bodily harm with intent (an offence contrary to s.18 Offences Against the Person Act 1861). This is a specified violent offence.;
  • Judge considers defendant to be dangerous;
  • Judge considers that in the circumstances of the case imprisonment for life is not justified;
  • Defendant has numerous previous convictions for violence, but none in Schedule 15B, but Judge of view that custodial element of sentence should be 6 years;
  • Judge passes extended sentence of 6 years’ imprisonment with a 4 year licence extension;
  • This means defendant will serve a minimum of 4 years in custody (⅔ of the custodial element) and a maximum of 6 years in custody. He is not entitled to automatic release at ⅔ because the offence he was sentenced for is in Schedule 15B, but he can apply for parole at that stage. After release he will be on licence until the end of the extended period; this means 6 years on licence if released after 4 years, or 4 years on licence if released after 6 years.